Chicago Invite: BYU Cougars Vs. Wisconsin Badgers – Free NCAA Basketball Picks

Wisconsin enters tonights game against BYU as 8 point favorites
BYU vs. Wisconsin
Chicago Invite
Spread: WIS -8
Moneyline: WIS -360, BYU +300
Tip off: 8 PM EST


Last season was by all means a great one for Jimmer Fredette and the BYU squad. They finished with a 32-5 record and went an outstanding 14-2 in conference play. They lost to the talented and favored Florida Gators squad in the Sweet 16, ending a great run and send off for Fredette, who still left some talent behind him from which things can continue to be built.

The problem still will be replacing Fredette’s usage. He took 38% of BYU’s shots last season and had the highest shot ratio in the country. He made their offense the potent machine it was. In conference play they averaged 1.15 points per possession, while also giving up less than 1 (0.97). That accounts for a lot of big wins. They also lose Jackson Emery to graduation, Kyle Collinsorth defected to Russia for a Mormon mission.

The void will be filled in part by 6’6″ junior forward Brock Zyistra, 6’0″ junior point guard Nick Martineau, 6’5″ freshman Damarcus Harrison, and 6’2″ freshman guard Matt Carlino, a transfer from UCLA. Carlino should step in and start at PG by mid season but is not currently eligible.

So far they have been led by Noah Hartsock and Charles Abouo. The pair combine for 31.4 points per game, which is nearly 40% of BYU’s offensive output. The duo are both shooting extremely well from the floor, with Abouo shooting 62.2% from the floor and Hartsock going 63.5%. Hartsock had his best game of the year in the win over Nevada, scoring 21 points on 9 of 12 shooting from teh floor, while also grabbing 6 boards, dishing out 2 assists, and recording both a block and a steal. Such stat stuffing lines will aid the Cougars in trying to replace the kind of output they lost in Fredette. Though, for sure, this team is going to regress. Last season, they were 20th in the nation in adjusted offense, without Fredette, it’s hard to imagine them being in the top 50.


Last season the Wisconsin Badgers finished with a 25-9 record, with a 13-5 Big Ten record and they lost to Butler 61-54 in the Sweet 16 in March. Their offense was stellar, ranking first in conference play with 1.19 points per possesion. Their defense wasn’t outstanding persay, but when you are getting up enough shots to score at that rate, the opponent will get some easy looks too, and that enables the 1.09 point per possesion averaged by Badgers’ conference opponents.

They do what they do well. Their guards like to play a slow and methodical game that involves a lot of three point hoisting. Last year the team shot 41.4% from three point range in conference play. Again: 41.4%. That kind of efficiency leads to a lot of wins and their conference record they posted was the best since teh 04-05 Illinois squad.

Jordan Taylor was huge reason why, but he has been disappointing thus far this season. Last year he was the most efficient player in the Big Ten and didn’t turn it ove rmuch at all (Well, he still isn’t really), but he only made 43% of his two point field goal attempts last season and needs to improve his mid range game to improve that mark. Right now, he just doesn’t have the kind of moves necessary to thrive when further away from the basket.

The lack of turnovers is encouraging though, because you can count on getting something out of him when you put the ball in his hands, whereas some players merely waste time on the shot clock and accomplish nothing. He’s also good for getting the ball to late in shot clocks, but with a 40.9% FG and only 9.6 points per game he is a far cry away from last season when he put up 18.1 per game. Against Wofford, he was barely involved, taking only 3 shots in 33 minutes. The game wasn’t close at all, but how does a starter play 33 minutes and attempt only 3 shots? Deference can go too far.

The Badgers do have four players in double figures. Jared Berggeren, a 6’10” junior center, was a top 100 recruit out of high school and will start at center for this entire season. So far he is off to a good start: 12.2 points per game, 5.4 rebounds per game, and 1.4 blocks per contest — all in 24 minutes a night. His double digit scoring average is joined by Josh Gasser (11.6), Ben Brust (11.2) and Ryan Evans (10.8). As a team, the Badgers are shooting 49.1% FG on the season.

No Badgers victory has come by any less than 23 points. They haven’t played any good teams at all, and it’s hard to expect the Cougars to be able to match them on the boards, nor can they score with Wisconsin. Still, the 8 point spread set by Bookmaker is a very solid line and it’s hard to extract a lot of value from it. Still, bettors may back the favored Badgers due to their hot start and high talent level this year (again).

Nonetheless, if you find the line encouraging, we suggest backing up a bet at Bookmaker where they offer 5% cash back on lost bets and a great cashout system. We recommend both using Bookmaker and checking out our paid pick packages which promise to line your pockets deep as our team storms through March handicapping better than anyone.

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